NJ Man Wins $37 Million in J&J Baby Powder Case

Middlesex County residents Stephen Lanzo and his wife claimed years of inhaling the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder caused the husband to develop mesothelioma

Johnson & Johnson said its talc products do not contain asbestos, which, it noted, has been a legal requirement since the 1970s. The plaintiff in the prior California case was female, and the other J&J talc trials to date involved women who claimed talc used on the genitals could cause ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson and Imerys SA must pay at least $37 million in a lawsuit claiming a man developed cancer due to his exposure to asbestos in talc-based products including Johnson's Baby Powder, a New Jersey state court jury said on Thursday.

During the more than two-month trial, Lanzo's lawyers produced stacks of internal J&J and Imerys files that showed officials of both companies were anxious that asbestos was tainting talc used in baby powder and other products as early as 1969. Colgate-Palmolive Co. agreed a year ago to settle a lawsuit claiming its talcum-powder products caused a Pennsylvania woman to develop mesothelioma.

"While we are disappointed with this decision, the jury has further deliberations to conduct in this trial and we will reserve additional comment until the case is fully completed", said Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson.

JNJ stock fell 2.5% on Friday.

Johnson & Johnson argued that it did extensive testing to make sure its products were not contaminated.

Deposits of talc are often located near deposits of the minerals that contain asbestos, and studies have shown the risk of cross-contamination while mining.

Throughout a lengthy trial that began in late January, attorneys for the Lanzos accused J&J of withholding information from consumers about the health risks of asbestos in its talc-based products for almost half a century.




The company's lawyers also offered several alternative theories for the source of Lanzo's mesothelioma, including 60 feet of asbestos-wrapped pipe in the basement of his childhood home.

The jury will decide next week whether to also award punitive damages to the Lanzos.

Johnson & Johnson will be liable for 70 percent of the damages with the other 30 percent falling on Imerys Talc, a supplier of the mineral.

The $7 million awarded to the wife was likely in response to a "loss of consortium" claim, in which spouses are compensated for any harm caused by a negligent injury.

Imerys Talc reportedly intends to appeal the decision.

Mesothelioma is cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs.

Did you stop using talcum powder after cancer fears were first raised?

Unfortunately it's rarely possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms. It usually takes a while for this to cause any obvious problems, with mesothelioma typically developing more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.

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